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December 30, 2012

GENEALOGY: A compilation of some entertaining epitaphs

Epitaphs on gravestones are something that most genealogists find intriguing. Some are funny or witty, some inspirational, and many give insight into the person interred under the stone. This week is a compilation of some entertaining epitaphs. The first inscription was set to a written music score and is the world’s oldest surviving piece of music.

• Euterpe, wife of Seikilos (who was an ancient Greek musician), 100-200 B.C.: “I am an icon in stone. Seikilos placed me here as an everlasting sign of deathless remembrance. As long as you live, shine. Let nothing grieve you beyond measure. For your life is short, and time will claim its toll. From Seikilos to Euterpe.”

• William Shakespeare, (poet and playwright), 1616: “Good friend for Jesus sake forbear to dig the dust enclosed heare. Blest be the man that spares these stones and Curst be he that moves my bones.”

• Winston Churchill (British statesman), 1965: “I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.”

• Martin Luther King Jr. (civil rights activist), 1968: “Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty I’m Free At Last.”

• Jesse James (American outlaw), 1882: “Murdered by a traitor and a coward whose name is not worthy to appear here.”

• Frank Sinatra (singer, actor), 1998: “The best is yet to come.”

• James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok (lawman of the west), 1876: “Pard, we will meet again in the Happy Hunting Ground to part no more, Goodbye.”

• Benjamin Franklin (founding father), 1790: “The Body of B. Franklin Printer; Like the Cover of an old Book, Its Contents torn out, And stript of its Lettering and Gilding, Lies here, Food for Worms. But the Work shall not be wholly lost: For it will, as he believ’d, appear once more, In a new and more perfect Edition, Corrected and Amended By the Author.” (Written by Franklin himself but never placed on his gravestone.)

• Alexander the Great (conqueror), 323 B.C.: “A tomb now suffices him, for whom the world was not enough.”

• Isaac Newton (physicist, mathematician, astronomer, genius), 1727: “Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night: God said, 'Let Newton be!' and all was light.”

• Christopher Wren (English architect of St. Paul's Cathedral in London, where he is interred), 1723: “Reader, if you seek his monument look around you.”

• Jack Dempsey (heavyweight champion boxer), 1983: “A gentle man and a gentleman.”

• William H. “Billy the Kid” Bonney (American outlaw), 1881: “Truth and History. 21 Men. The Boy Bandit King. He Died As He Lived.”

• John Brown (unknown dentist): “Stranger, Approach this spot with gravity. John Brown is filling his last cavity.”

• Jackie Gleason (comedian) 1987: “And away we go!”

• Rodney Dangerfield (comedian), 2004: “There goes the neighborhood.”

• Merv Griffin (producer, game show host), 2007: “I will not be back after this message.”

• Joan Hackett (actress), 1953: “Go away—I’m asleep.”

• Matthew Mudd (unknown) from Massachusetts: “Here lies Matthew Mudd, Death did him no hurt; When alive he was only Mudd, But now he's only dirt.”

• Mel Blanc (creator of Looney Tunes characters including Porky Pig), 1989: “That’s all, folks!”

• George Burns and Gracie Allen (married comedy duo), 1996 and 1964: “Together again.”

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